USF volleyball coach Claire Lessinger has described her squad as a “serving and blocking team,” but the Bulls couldn’t get their strengths to work for them this weekend.
The Bulls (17-8, 9-5) were outblocked by No. 24 Notre Dame (20-4, 14-0), committed eight service errors and failed to upset the Irish in a 3-1 loss Sunday, dropping USF to sixth in the conference.
“We wanted to serve aggressive. And when you’re being aggressive, you’re going to miss some serves,” Lessinger said. “Our main issues were some unforced errors and not getting into rhythm with our passing game.”
The key matchup was USF’s second-best defense in the Big East against Notre Dame’s offense, ranked best in the conference. However, the Irish surged to .293 attacking while holding the Bulls to .164.
“We didn’t play our best (Sunday), but I don’t think Notre Dame did either. We had some good matchups that we just couldn’t take advantage of,” Lessinger said.
USF fell in the first set but responded with a 25-23 victory in the second set, moving into the locker rooms 1-1.
“After going into the locker room, we had seen and felt physically that we could play with the team and we just needed to come out and have a good side-out offense,” said junior Allie Boaz.
However, Notre Dame held USF to 21 and 19 points in the final two sets for the victory.
Despite the low team hitting percentage, USF still had three players reach double-digit kills: Boaz and seniors Marcela Gurgel and Alli Arbogast.
Boaz tied for a team-high 10 kills in a 3-0 sweep over DePaul on Friday, but she said she was hoping for an upset over the Irish.
“I feel like we were trying really hard as a team to fix our errors, but the ball just wasn’t rolling our way,” she said.
USF will play third-seeded Pittsburgh in the first round of the Big East tournament Friday in Louisville.